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Bernice Sandler, ‘Godmother of Title IX,’ Dies at 90

Bernice Resnick was born on March 3, 1928, in Brooklyn, where she and her older sister, Rhoda, grew up. Her father, Abraham Hyman Resnick, and her mother, Ida (Ernst) Resnick, owned a woman’s sportswear store, Resnick’s Fashions, in Rockaway, N.J.

She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brooklyn College in 1948, a master’s in psychology from the City College of New York in 1950, and a doctorate in education from the University of Maryland in 1969. Her marriage in 1952 to Jerrold Sandler ended in divorce in 1978.

Unable to find a job in psychology or counseling, Dr. Sandler worked as a preschool teacher, a guitar instructor and a secretary.

But once she got involved in Title IX, she devoted the rest of her life to combating sex discrimination. She spent two decades as the director of the Project on the Status and Education of Women at the Association of American Colleges. She delivered more than 2,500 presentations and served as a consultant to numerous institutions, including the Citadel, the South Carolina military college, as it edged toward coeducation with a “female assimilation plan.”

When attending events at the all-male Cosmos Club, an exclusive Washington organization that did not admit women until 1988, Dr. Sandler refused to enter by the back door, as women were instructed to do. Once, while scattering buttons around the club that said “Uppity Women Unite,” a male waiter asked for a handful. He then planted them on the urinals in the men’s bathrooms.

Dr. Sandler received multiple awards, a dozen honorary degrees and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

In a 2007 article, she concluded that Title IX had precipitated a social revolution comparable to the Industrial Revolution. Women and men, she said, “are far closer to equal than they have ever been in the history of the world.”

But, Dr. Sandler added, “We have only taken the very first steps of what will be a very long journey.”

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